There are times when my life can feel like a fairy tale, and it all started Once Upon A Time in the sunshine filled, rolling hills of Athens, Ohio. Where the town is small, but house shows happen often, where nature reigns supreme and one of the most tight-knit communities finds a home. Athens is also the birthplace of DARK CIRCLES RECORDS, a label and collective devoted to producing and promoting independent music and art.
A few years has passed since the genesis of DCR and myself, along with what I will call a power team of friends that make up the masterminds of DCR and half of SODDY DAISY have since transplanted to the one and only Chicago, Illinois. What started as a group of my closest friends loosely putting out albums and throwing a lot of parties, has begun to grow into a driving force in the DIY scene, becoming more efficient and confident every step of the way. From the outside it’s easy to dismiss yet another DIY tape label emerging on the scene, but from the inside, knowing that a group of people you love is working towards bettering a community you love, well nothing can bring a tear to your eye more quickly.
Tonight DCR is celebrating the release of it’s first, of many, compilations and all the hard work it took to put it together. The track lists includes bands from varying genres and locations including some local legends like RABBLE RABBLE, THE LEMONS, NEGATIVE SCANNER, and new comers SODDY DAISY. To say that this compilation is unique is an understatement, from the tracks to the custom made packing, everything about this comp is special. I got to catch up with my good pal, Maureen Neer of SODDY DAISY to talk about life post-Ohio and the growing musical empire surrounding SODDY DAISY and DCR.
ASHLEIGH DYE: Living in Athens made you no stranger to playing shows and being involved in a community based music scene, but what were some of the more major transitions/adjustments that went along with doing the same thing in a much larger place?
MAUREEN NEER: I think I got really lucky meeting the Young Camelot dudes so soon after we moved here…it was like, maybe two months in? I came to Chicago with two really specific goals in mind: to play in a band that worked a lot–shows, recording, tour, partying, ya know. Also to get better at cooking. I think we’re still in the fledgling stage, but we’re all about working hard and building community.
AD: How do SODDY DAISY and YOUNG CAMELOT co-exist?
MN: There’s limited band cross-over at Young Camelot, because we try to showcase a diverse range of music from Chicago and elsewhere. We don’t want to constantly book shows with our own bands on the bill, because then people wouldn’t come to YC shows. There are so many awesome reasons why I love being involved in YC, and we definitely work with them. Now that we’re in the church, YC has gotten REAL. Like, now at YC we print shirts, are potentially partnering with Dark Circles Records for distribution, we can record bands and every live performance, we have film screenings, plays… and the list goes on. We want to come up with a better way of paying performers and helping them record and promote their music. There are also twelve of us that run YC, and we all have different interests and talents, which is why we can offer a band pretty much any service they’ll need cheaper than going to a different place for every thing. We want to be a positive part of the community that not only throws bangers, but helps people out. Mostly because we’re all weirdos who don’t want real jobs, so we’re trying to find ways to do what we love. Which is music, art, and having a grand ole time.
AD: What do you value most about being apart of a community of people with similar goals?
MN: I think the best thing about finding your group, especially in a city as big as Chicago, is that you have so many ideas to bounce off of really talented, creative people. It really produces amazing art and music, and you know, makes life worth living and shit….
AD: SODDY DAISY is barely a year old, but has been making some major headway in Chicago. What have been some of your highs and lows so far?
MN: Fighting. We got some stubborn-ass people in our band, I am definitely one of them, so sometimes shit gets, uh, volatile. They flare up quick, but don’t last long. I think whenever we play a really awesome show, that’s when I feel the happiest. It’s the mixture of adrenaline and drugs and shouting and dancing. It’s like musical therapy, I think.
AD: How did you all meet?
MN: Well, as you know, Chris Lee was apart of our caravan from Ohio to Chicago. Chris met HoneyHole Johnson and went over to play music at his house, which was the old Young Camelot on Chillwaukee Ave. One night Chris came back to the apartment and was like, “yo, you gotta come over and play with these dudes”. So, eventually I did and it was with Christian and Joey. The very cool dudes over at Situations had booked me for a show already, and I didn’t know what to do, so I was like, “you guys wanna play a show in two weeks?” and that was it.
MN: DIY spaces are crucial because they are havens of unfettered creativity. They promote positive community and take care of the people in it. And the music is better .
AD: You and your drummer, Chris Lee, have been involved with Dark Circles for quite sometime, can you give us a rundown of your guys’ history with the label?
MN: I’ve really just recently become actively involved with DCR. Back in Athens, I didn’t really do anything with them, other than drugs (just kidding, mom). They put out two of my old bands–ELTON JOHNNY and M.O.P. Chris Lee was recording a lot of that stuff in his basement; the Danger Room. It was always freezing and I was always there until sun rise and people were always coming through and partying. It also helped that it was a stones throw from my house. One day I remember I was catching some rays on my roof, and I could see and hear Chris playing banjo. Like a creep. Now I’m doing more PR for DCR, because I’m out at shows a lot and have met a lot of awesome bands, and we’re trying to really get situated here in Chicago. We’re new, but word’s getting out, so it’s really exciting to watch that unfold here. I feel like a geek, but I’m starting to do what I’ve really always wanted to do here in Chicago, and I’m happy as a clam.
AD: What’s in store for SODDY DAISY’S future?
MN: The future of Soddy Daisy? Millions, hookers, rehab, and then hopefully, someday, a reality show on VH1.
AD: What are you most excited about for tonight’s compilation release?
MN: Playing with our dudes from Athens, WEIRD SCIENCE!
WORDS & PHOTOS BY: ASHLEIGH DYE